Nine decades ago, beginning on May 10, 1933, the evil of Nazism was on the rise in Germany. Nazi-dominated student groups carried out public burnings of books they claimed were “un-German.” Works of prominent Jewish, liberal, and leftist writers ended up in the bonfires. In the aftermath of the book burnings, the Nazi regime raided bookstores, libraries, and publishers’ warehouses to confiscate materials it deemed “dangerous”.
It is unlikely such drastic actions would take place in today’s context, but in recent days, some sections of the national community were incensed that two books, I am a Rainbow and Let’s talk about sex was targeting children and young teens.
As happens nowadays on social media, photographs of these books and the reactions to them went viral. The language soon becoming vitriolic, as there was the assumption, without evidence, that the books had been introduced to the school curriculum. The Ministry of Education responded with immediacy to the misinformation.
As reported by some media, a bookstore was promoting the books for sale for Pride Month, observed worldwide in June each year. The bookstore faced a social media backlash. There were reports of a boycott and even intimidation of some staff. Some went as far as accusing the bookstore of engaging in sexual grooming of children.
In a brief statement posted to its Facebook page, the bookstore said it was committed to bookselling to all members of the public; no matter their gender affiliation or identity.
Issues of sex, sexuality, identity, and gender, in private and public contexts, always seems to attract attention. Involving children in the mix, directly or indirectly, raises the ire of many including parents, guardians, and religious leaders.
Why is this? It is out of fear. Fear is a necessary emotion. For example, it is out of fear of the future that most try to save a percentage of income. Fear of our homes and businesses being broken into drives us to have a few bad dogs, install burglary proofing, surveillance cameras, and alarm systems.
Dealing with people who identify as LGBTQI+ is a sensitive matter because there is a level of fear, especially when there are local and international agencies pushing an agenda – subtly and not so subtly.
When it comes to those promoting gender ideology, the Church is against any efforts to deny “the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female…” (Amoris Laetitia, 56.)
What’s clear is we cannot close our eyes thinking it will all just go away. The solution is not in standing alone but learning and understanding the Church’s position and moving with the Church, which offers moral and spiritual guidance on issues such as these. We need not be afraid.
The Church does not condemn individuals, saying “We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration while every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.” (AL 250)
We therefore must not discriminate but stand firm on our values, recognising the role we play in educating our children. Until our children come of age, when they can make their own life decisions, it is the parents’ responsibility what they are exposed to. Parenting is serious business.
A book represents knowledge, but it is the role of the parent as the first teacher to help the child understand that knowledge.
We must conquer our LGBTQIA+ fears with clarity of purpose, prayerful counsel and most of all, a values and virtues-based education.
The Archdiocesan Family Life Commission is offering virtual recorded sessions on special topics in Theology of the Body: Gender & Sexual Identity (based on a conference hosted by the Ruah Woods Institute).
Some books just need to be left on the shelf.